Ray’s been serv­ing ten­nis at Pom­pal­lier for 45 years

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

It’s tough to play ten­nis with bul­rushes grow­ing in the mid­dle of the court.

But that’s what Pom­pal­lier Ten­nis Club founder Ray Keenan was faced with when he started the club in 1963.

Courts at the St Mary’s Bay base were home to other Catholic ten­nis clubs dur­ing the 1940s and 50s, but had fallen into dis­re­pair.

“Ten­nis had given me plea­sure in my younger days, so I de­cided I’ve got to do some­thing about it,” he says.

Af­ter se­cur­ing per­mis­sion to res­ur­rect a club on the church-owned land, Ray set out on a two-year fund­ing drive to resur­face the courts and erect new fences.

The fundrais­ing process in­cluded ev­ery­thing from raf­fling meat packs to cars.

Ray’s ef­forts brought in enough cash for the club to open in 1965.

A se­ries of work­ing bees held through­out the late 1970s were re­spon­si­ble for the pavil­ion which is still used to­day.

And the 80-year-old’s com­mit­ment still hasn’t faded.

He now helps to or­gan­ise tour­na­ments and looks af­ter main­te­nance of the club fa­cil­i­ties.

“I founded it and nat­u­rally I want to see it suc­ceed. I wouldn’t like to see it die out,” Ray says.

Ray also had plenty of suc­cess at the club’s an­nual cham­pi­onships, winning the sin­gles tour­na­ment eight times be­tween 1968 and 1981, and play­ing in the in­ter­club Caro Bowl.

The Pom­pal­lier life mem­ber switched to dou­bles in the late 1970s af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with arthri­tis, tak­ing out the ti­tle five years run­ning with son Michael.

He also at­tended the vet­eran ver­sions of Wim­bel­don and the French Open in 1974, mak­ing the semifi on the fa­mous clay sur­face at Roland Garos.

Orig­i­nally he was re­luc­tant to go be­cause of fam­ily com­mit­ments, but wife Mar­garet in­sisted he make the three-month trip.

“She said: ‘You’ve al­ways wanted to go, so go’.”

Club cap­tain James Shor­tall says they’re ex­tremely lucky to have Ray still in­volved af­ter so many years. “He’s al­ways here. “There are prob­a­bly a lot of other clubs en­vi­ous of his ded­i­ca­tion to Pom­pel­lier.”

The club is hold­ing an open day on Sun­day.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit www. pom­pal­lierten­nis.co.nz or phone Ray on 575-1255.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Still go­ing strong: Pom­pel­lier Ten­nis Club life mem­ber Ray Keenan still helps run the club he founded in 1965. Inset: Ray Keenan play­ing at an in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment in 1978.

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